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Bar Essentials: The Poste House

It was almost demolished by apartment developers, but these days it pulls more than a good pint of guest or a £1.60 treble...

Published on January 14th 2010.

Bar Essentials: The Poste House

What's the story
IF a pub's primary reason for being is its ability to dispense good cheer, then the Poste House, tiny though it may be, has got the biggest ladle of all to sup it from.

For almost 200 years, all manner of clientèle, have found themselves within its nooks and crannies, tucked away down Cumberland Street, that discreet little alley connecting Dale Street and Victoria Street.

Drinkers are said to have included Charles Dickens, Herman Melville and James Thackeray as well as Jack the Ripper suspect James Maybrick. It’s even rumoured that the young Adolf Hitler frequented the place when he was staying in Liverpool, although whether he ever actually even set foot in the city is debatable itself.

But back in 2001, it looked as if time was to be called on the Poste House forever.

Big name property developers had plans to turn Cumberland Street into flats, sorry, luxury apartments. The pub, they claimed, wouldn’t fit into their plans, and so had to go.

This was read as “We don’t want a load of old codgers cluttering up our yuppie development”, by many of the old codgers cluttering up the bar.

After much careful inconsideration, an application to demolish the 1820 pub was recommended for approval by Liverpool City Council’s planning officers,

But local hero Mike Carr, who was involved with the local CAMRA branch, decided to start a fight to keep it. CAMRA joined forces with the pub’s regulars. They lodged objections and co-ordinated a successful media campaign, which all culminated in a delegation marching behind a coach and horses to the planning committee hearing at Liverpool Town Hall. To everyone's delight, councillors disregarded the advice of their officers and threw out the demolition plans. People of Liverpool 1 - Developers 0.

Why go there?
Returning to the Poste House, for the first time in ages, some Sundays ago didn’t disappoint us. The downstairs bar was crowded with the more “senior” customers who have always been its mainstay, quietly nattering away the afternoon. So far, so reassuringly familiar and welcoming. In one change for the better, the Postie has been spruced up. Out with the cigarettes and nicotine have gone the famously sticky carpets in both bars, to reveal the wooden flooring. The seating booths in the small downstairs bar have been comfortably re-upholstered too, which means you aren't glued to them any more either, should you need to make a quick escape.

But go upstairs and the greatest changes are revealed. Spotting the value of the pink pound, licensee Steve Duggan, who's been there three years, has gone out of his way to make the pub gay-friendly. What had been a room used only for the odd function, is now firmly established as a popular meeting place for Liverpool’s gay community.

Ruling the roost up here is the decidedly camp and very welcoming head barman poached by Steve from the now closed Paco’s bar. Sheila Blige (these may possibly not match the names on his birth certificate), was followed to the bar by his loyal customers from Paco’s. Thus a new era for the Georgian pub has dawned.

Who goes there?
How wrong the developers have been shown to be in their claim that the pub wouldn’t fit into the redevelopment. For this is a pub that has blossomed, and embraced a whole new clientèle. The pub’s regulars mix with after-work office drinkers from all backgrounds of an evening, and happily co-exist with the pink punters. There’s also a healthy sprinkling of regulars from the adjacent flats. Truly a pub for everyone.

What's yours?
As far as drinks prices go, the place is a real steal. Our agent's well kept pint of Jennings Cumberland Ale was a bargain £2.00. Three guest beers are on at any one time. For those of that inclination, the pub serves treble, yes treble, measures of spirits at just £1.60. However the brands are obscure, and you might well prefer to go for the more upmarket brands on offer in slightly more restrained single or doubles. Even these will only set you back a little more. There’s also a very respectable selection of single malts on offer too, and, at £2.60 for a large one, you'd be insane not to dive in.

Platters CDs downstairs, Donna Summer CDs upstairs. That's it, and your conversation.

What's the crack?
Oh stop it.

You may remember going in, you possibly won't remember leaving.

The Poste House, 23 Cumberland Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 6BU. 0151 236 4130

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26 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Rusty SpikeOctober 14th 2008.

Sorry to appear as if one is picking on you Anonymouse, old sausage, but how come you lived next door to the Poste House for 9 months? As my memory serves it was a car park, and the buildings on either side close to rubble. Why, the joint was propped up for years with huge wooden bolsters to presumably prevent it toppling onto the adjacent Mondeos, parked while their owners toiled as solicitors' clerks. Pray, don't tell me that Cumberland Street and locale is now peppered with luxury 'basement and ground floor' loft apartments for the swishly vainglious. And if you did live next door how marvellous, as if you'd bothered to check you would have found that it probably wasn't Karaoke they introduced at all. It would have been Allan Williams on song, as they say after a day on the batter. He has a rather super - if high decibel - tenor voice and once appeared as a singing dolphin in one of the late and great Ken Campbell's theatrical anarchies. So you see, Anonymouse, I did suggest you get out more....you have missed a cultural treat.

AdminsOctober 14th 2008.

Thanks Dig, for pointing that out. Pilgrim Woman: Are you sure you want to go out with this man?

Martin BarmanOctober 14th 2008.

Hi Rudy how's it going? I am still working in a bar in Argentina. Always think of you when somebody sticks Spandau Ballet on the jukie.How's the Frau?

Pop TartOctober 14th 2008.

Used to drink here years ago, i think.... was this the place with all the cut off ties pinned up over the bar - or has my memory finally failed me?

Pop TartOctober 14th 2008.

Did they used to have bands on at The Roscoe Mr Bronw.... tying to piece it all together!

Tom BrownOctober 14th 2008.

The last time I went in there at dinnertime was years ago. We couldn't move for a lot of fat, complacent-looking drunks sitting about all drinking liqueurs and spirits and all of them had City Council Filofaxes! We thoughk they might have been the Education Committee.

R. HessOctober 14th 2008.

I used to drink there regularly with my old buddy Adolf he preferred the Blond ales as I recall. We lost touch in 1941 when I went off to Scotland

Dig the DiggerOctober 14th 2008.

My great great grandpa was Jack The Ripper and he used to drink in here, however his name was James Maybrick. I think his violent tendencies run thru the family. Anyway never mind that, anybody fancy a pint after work?

KlaatuOctober 14th 2008.

I go there at least once a week to meet a friend who loves the place...I've been drinking there since the 70's

Riff RaffertyOctober 14th 2008.

The Lomax! Ah! I remember when it was an indoor hippy fleamarket before it was a performance venue; teapots with mouldy teabags still in them etc.

Pop TartOctober 14th 2008.

I saw Oasis there, they supported Small, who got signed and became Smaller, who then became the Sums... God bless Digsy!

BartOctober 14th 2008.

This has actually made me feel like going out drinking after work.

AnitaOctober 14th 2008.

I've always liked the Poste House, I used to go in there years ago and have a great big fry up at lunch time. My son goes in there now (for the cheaper drinks). It's nice to read a good write up on the pub.

Bill HicsOctober 14th 2008.

You used to get all the bands in there when the Lomax was still going.I remember seeing Oasis in there once (The Poste House). In fact I saw three Liam Gallaghers

Rusty SpikeOctober 14th 2008.

Ah....ye Poste House. Memories. This was a joint where professional lunchtime and all day imbibers could order up a triple vodka or cheapo whisky for a quid, just to 'ease the pain' of life, as the saying goes. Legends - and the legless - were created there and reputations ruined. Before Regeneration (AR & BR - will soon become shorthand, methinks in Liverpool; for the slow witted AR = After Regeneration) punters stumbling on the way there late afternoon would often halt at the end of Cumberland Street, cup their ears, so to speak, and listen to hear if one time 'r'glar' Allan Williams - the man who 'gave the Beatles away' (ahem) was about to 'turn on a tanner' and start his rants, and turn on their heels and scarper double - even treble - quick time to avoid Allan's waspish tongue lashings. It was one of the only pubs in the city at one point where he wasn't barred....har, har....Does he still take a tipple there? Bet he'll be (rightly) banging on about Ringo's latest public relations gaffe: Love and Peace, everyone, Love and Peace...now feck off and leave me alone, and stop pestering me with yer feckin fan mail and other wastes of time; but thanks - or rather no thanks - for making me a rich git. No, that's not Allan, that's Ringo - who wasn't in THE band when Allan got shut of the Fab Four, which is probably a good thing for Mr Starr as Allan - with his perfectly rounded vowels - would no doubt have given Richard a terrible risque ticking off for being such a long time arse. Peace and Love, everyone, Peace and feckin Love.....

AnonymousOctober 14th 2008.

I lived next door to the Poste House for 9 months. I remember when they introduced Karaoke which they only ket up for one night. it was just like having your very own drunken lout in your front room....

SpartaclushOctober 14th 2008.

No! I was that drunken lout!

hrcnowOctober 14th 2008.

Good to read my brother described as a local hero! I know how hard he worked on that campaign.

Sir Thomas StreetOctober 14th 2008.

Is the beer still really cheap in The Mazzie across the street? Cracking place that; bonhomie, cheap beer and a full cabaret in performance by six o'clock on a Friday after work! (Apart from one evening when the Paramedics had to break into the toilets to rescue an attempted suicide which did put a bit of a damper on the evening.)

Alberts BeerOctober 14th 2008.

Hey guys guess what, I drew up the plans for Liverpool 1. Though I doubt they'll last a thousand years, or months in some cases. Gerry Built if you ask me.

Tom BrownOctober 14th 2008.

That sounds like the Roscoe Head, miss. Alas the ties all went with the cellarman who won the pub all those awards.

Mike StoreyOctober 14th 2008.

Weren't the cut-off ties in the Crocodile?

Rusty SpikeOctober 14th 2008.

Well, Mr Brown, you could be right. There was always a rumour - now entered folklore - that there was a secret tunnel that ran underneath the Education Offices to Cumberland Street where officials and politcos could make their way unseen to nestle in a corner of the Poste House with an early gargle....

Mr BentleyOctober 14th 2008.

I think Dig meant Robert Housebrick or Bob The Builder as he was known. So Pilchard woman should be fine.

wasOctober 14th 2008.

that drunken lout, thank you very much.

Tom BrownOctober 14th 2008.

Dunno, I never went in 'Der Croc' or indeed the 'Pen and Wig'. They were very much scally haunts for lads with permed mullets even after the Dale Street lagerboys had been lured up to Hardman Street

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